A common question that parents often ask is what is the best night light for kids? Today on the blog, we will share our top 10 picks for the best night lights for kids. We will be exploring their features in-depth and comparing their pros and cons. But before I get into the details on specific night lights, I want to share what the current research on night lights indicates. Do kids need night lights? Are they safe? Do they cause developmental issues? Should you use one? I’ll share all the information I found so that you can make an informed decision for you and your family.
Are Night Lights Safe?
One research study from the Scheie Eye Institute in Pennsylvania in 1999 may scare many new parents. It indicated that children who sleep with a light on were more likely to develop short sightedness than those that slept in the light. They also found that the degree of brightness had an effect. In other words, the stronger or brighter the light then the greater the likelihood of being short-sighted.
However, other studies were not able to replicate these findings. In fact, another study from just a year later from Ohio State University found that night lights did not lead to sight problems. However, the study did find a relationship between nearsighted parents being more likely to have nearsighted children. Researchers from Ohio noted that the previous study did not control for this and suggest this is the reason for the previous (incorrect) findings.
Generally, pediatricians agree that a small dim night light is generally safe. The bigger concern than safety is sleep disruption. Studies have found that light exposure suppresses melatonin which can cause dysregulated sleep. So the dimmer the light the better as far as avoiding sleep disruption. However, as always, consult with your pediatrician on what is best for your child.
Do Kids Need Night Lights?
Kids do not need a night light for any physiological reason. However, many children do find the light soothing and comforting, especially those who develop a fear of the dark. These fears usually don’t develop until age 2 or 3, so a night light may not be needed before that time. I personally used night lights in my children’s rooms when they were infants in order for me to be able to see during a nighttime feeding session. I would keep the light as low as possible and turn off as I left the room. For older children, night lights can also be helpful for getting up at night to use the bathroom providing them a way to see. So ultimately it is up to you based on the needs of your child.
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What to look for in a night light?
Now that we’ve gone over the major factors to consider when deciding on whether a night light is right for you. Let’s discuss what to look for in a night light. Night lights have come a long way in the last 20 years. Many include additional features and are not solely a night light. They may also serve as an alarm or a sound machine. Some of the features that you may want to look for or consider:
- Sound Machine Features (plays music and sounds, such as white noise)
- Dimmable Lights
- Varying Light Colors
- Programmable Light Timing (Set for a certain schedule or shutting off after a certain time)
- Remote Control
- Battery Power Option for Travel and Portability
- Image Projections
- Alarm Capabilities (options for either by light or sound)
I especially appreciate night lights that are dimmable that include both plug-in and powered options to make it easy to use at home or on the road. We’ve also always used sound machines both for ourselves and our kids. Soft sounds and music can really help children relax and fall asleep.
Top 10 Night Lights for Kids
As our top pick on the list, we have the top of the line night light that has nearly every feature you could think of for a night light. It is a night light, sleep trainer, sound machine, clock, alarm and time-for-bed timer all in one. It even includes WiFi so that you can control the Hatch Night Light from anywhere through an App. The Hatch includes soothing sounds like wind, rain, and white noise. With an added membership you can also listen to curated bedtime stories, music and more. Depending on what you are looking for, it may be a bit of overkill, but it deserves a spot at the top of the list due to all the features it includes.
This is my children’s personal favorite night light. I had to include it on this list because both of them have the elephant version and still use them to this very day. We take it on all of our trips, and they both have to have their slumber buddy with them at night. It is a projector night light with sounds and music. You just press a button to project stars up on the ceiling of the room. There are 3 color options: red, blue and green. The slumber buddy also plays white noises and music with volume control. The slumber buddy can be set to turn off after 15, 30 or 60 minute intervals. It is available in 3 designs: a sloth, an elephant and a mini penguin. We love this in our house and highly recommend it!
The LumiPet Nursery Night Light is a soft silicone covered night light that is available in a wide variety of animal options: bear, bunny, cat, dragon, elephant, fox, hippo, koala, lion, owl, penguin, puppy and unicorn. There’s sure to be an option that every child will love. The LumiPet is rechargeable via a USB cable. It also includes a remote control with 9 available light colors and a timer auto shut-off option. The big thing this night light is really missing for me is sound, but if you’re looking for a true night light that your child will find as a fun companion, then this is a great choice.
This next night light is really something more. If you are struggling with your child getting up and out of bed too early, then this is a great option for you. The LittleHippo Mella Ready to Rise Sleep Trainer uses colors and faces to help your child understand the concept of time (which studies show doesn’t happen until the age of 8). You can program the time the alarm clock will turn green, open its eyes and smile to indicate that it is time for them to get up. You can also include a time for play if you would like, indicated by yellow. This represents time where your child can get up and play quietly before the clock goes to green. Before this time the clock will be red with closed sleeping eyes to indicate that it isn’t time to get up yet. We used this with my daughter, and found that she caught on very quickly. It can be especially helpful with time changes too! The Sleep Timer also includes a night light, an alarm, a timer and sleep sounds. Delivering quite a lot in a small package.
Next on the list I have two options from Skip Hop. This first Moonlight & Melodies Night Light includes a projector, a night light, and a sound machine all in one. It comes in 4 animal varieties and sizes: owl, elephant, sloth and a mini owl. All except the sloth and the mini owl include an adjustable pivot lens to project a starry night onto any surface, so little ones can observe the stars and moon from wherever they are sleeping. The night light is dimmable and plugs into the wall so that you don’t need to worry about battery replacement or recharging. It also includes an auto-off timer for increments of 15, 30 or 60 minutes. This is a great option for those looking for a night-light, sound and projector combination without the batteries.
For those of you looking for night lights for babies, this cry-activated one by Skip Hop is an awesome choice. The most unique feature is its cry activation. When it detects crying it will turn on to soothe baby with soothing sounds or a customized recording from mom or dad. The night light can be set to 7 different colors or a multi-light show. It includes an auto shut-off after 15, 30 or 60 minutes. There is even an included thermometer to measure the comfort of the temperature in baby’s room. It’s shaped like a succulent and emits a soft glow. This is a great option for infants and toddlers.
While this night light isn’t shaped like an animal, it does come packed with other features. It includes 26 soothing sounds, multiple light colors with dimmable settings, and can be powered by an adapter or a USB. It also comes with a shutoff timer and multiple volume settings. Ultimately, it is a great affordable option for parents looking for a sound machine and night light in one.
I had to include this on the list since it is one of the coolest night lights and projectors that I have ever seen. The Astronaut Space Buddy Projector and Night Light is shaped like an astronaut and projects a starry nebula onto the ceiling out of the front of the astronaut’s helmet. It includes a remote control and a timer, and the projection angle is adjustable. It’s honestly both decor and a night light in one. If you have a little one who loves space and astronauts, you’re going to want this for their room.
This next night light is like having an ocean in your bedroom at night. Many people love the sounds of the ocean and find it incredibly soothing. This night light projects soft glowing waves of light as if you were under the water. It includes 7 lighting modes based off the 12 LED lights inside the device. It has an adjustable shut-off timer that can be set to 1, 2 or 4 hours depending on your preferences. The noise machine offers 8 soothing nature sounds and you can also broadcast your own music using the included audio cable. Finally, there is an included remote for controlling all of these settings at the touch of a button.
For those of you out there saying “I just want a night light, I don’t need all of that other stuff”. This is the choice for you. These plug right into the wall and emit color-changing LED light. They come in a 2 pack and have 3 different light level settings. They are simple, yet effective. These make a great choice for a bathroom or a hallway or for someone who just wants a night light without the added bells and whistles.
When should Kids stop using a night light?
Ultimately there is no specific age by which a child should stop using a night light. It is up to them and their preferences. If as they grow, you find they no longer need it, then you can simply stop using it. Some adults even prefer to sleep with some soft ambient light.
Thanks for stopping by! If you liked this post you may also want to check out this post on Our Baby & Toddler Bedtime Routine. It goes over our whole bedtime routine and how we get our kids to sleep every night. There are some great tips for promoting good sleep habits in there!